Did you purchase a new aquarium? If so, you will need to make some preparations, before you are ready to add fish. Congratulations on your new purchase, but before you undertake the great world of raising fish, you are going to need to know how to properly care for your tank.
You already know that your aquarium needs to be filled with water, but do you know how to maintain and monitor the pH level? Did you know that tap water is unsuitable for your freshwater aquarium?
These are all important questions that need to be answered, before you buy and add fish to the aquarium. Below you will find the answers to these questions and a lot more information that will help you on your fish expedition.
What is pH?
PH is a huge factor that you have to monitor, when you want to maintain the quality of water in your freshwater aquarium. Your regular old tap water may not contain the correct amounts of pH, so you have to learn how to test the pH level and make adjustments, if need be.
You also need to know that different species of fish require different pH levels. This is why it is so important to do some research, beforehand. It is also important to make sure that you know the basics, before you add your fish to the aquarium.
The pH of water is rated on a scale of 0 to 14. A pH value of 7 is considered to be neutral. If you have a pH level below 7, then your water is considered acidic, whereas a pH value above 7 is considered to alkaline.
Not maintaining the correct pH levels in water will cause your fish to become stressed out and they will eventually die.
Testing pH In Tap Water
Many people will fill a bucket with tap water and test its pH level right away, but this is the incorrect way to test the pH levels of tap water. The correct method that you should use is to fill a bucket with some tap water, add an air stone (if you have one, skip this step if not), let the bucket set for 24 hours, and then test the pH levels.
Let the bucket set for another 48 hours and retest the pH levels again. The purpose of the air stone is to oxygenate the water. We understand that not everybody will want to or can do this but this is the safest way.
You’re going to need an effective way to test the pH of your water, so the product we recommend having handy is the master test kit from API. You can pick them up from Chewy for less than $20 and they will be your go-to kit for testing not only tap water, but your tank water for pH, nitrates, ammonia and a few other important pieces of information.
The reason you need to let the bucket set for 24 to 48 hours is because the Carbon Dioxide in the water causes the pH levels to drop. We highly recommend you buy a test kit for accurate readings of your water parameters, not only will this benefit your fish but it will also help your bank balance by not having to replace dead fish! Yes look after your water to look after your fish.
Raising pH Levels in the Water
There are several different ways to raise the pH levels of the water to ensure that your fish live a long and healthy life. Below you will learn about some of these techniques.
- Changing the water – the best way to raise the pH levels in you water is to perform regular 10% – 20% water change. You should keep in mind that you do not always have to change all of your aquarium water at once. Instead, you can perform several smaller water changes. However, if you do perform smaller water changes, you should wait 24 hours in between each change, so that you do not shock the fish.
- Vacuuming uneaten food – if you vacuum out all of the uneaten food in your aquarium, it will also prevent the pH levels from dropping.
- Rocks or substrate – there are several different things that you can add to your aquarium to raise the pH levels. For instance, crushed coral, limestone, and petrified coral will all raise the pH levels. With that being said, many people do not want to add these things to their landscaping. One way around this is by trying to hide them under some of the landscaping that you already have installed. Another method you can use is adding some crushed coral to your filter.
- Baking soda – will also raise the pH levels in your tank. However, with this method you will need to constantly add baking soda on a regular basis. You can’t just add it one time and be done with it. You also need to be very careful not to add too much or otherwise you will raise the pH levels too high and kill your fish. A good rule of thumb is to add 1 teaspoon per every 5 gallons.
Lowering pH Levels
At times you might even find it necessary to lower the pH levels. Below you will learn some techniques to lower the pH levels.
- Peat Moss – filtering through peat moss will be the best way to lower the pH levels in your water.
- Carbon Dioxide – as mentioned above Carbon Dioxide can cause the pH levels to drop, so if you need to drop the level you can simply add Carbon Dioxide.